Liam and I had another great lesson today. I wasn’t expecting much since he had the last two days off. Yesterday was just too darn cold, and the day before I wasn’t feeling well. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling better today, but since he had 2 days off and I didn’t even go to the barn yesterday, I figured I had to try today.
The day started a little rough. I rode Bliss first, and he hauled my sorry butt around the arena until my face was frozen and my arm was cramping and I just felt useless and begged mercy from my trainer. I don’t know what happened. I think he is feeling better, which is great, but I think he’s also figured out my weaknesses, which will be educational, but in the meantime is painful. He’s smarter than I am, I can give him that, but I wish he’d be a little more generous with his knowledge. Today, I couldn’t even hardly get him to turn. And he is just plain too HUGE to be pulling on my arms, and is just so huge he laughs when I kick him. He’s 18 hands (6ft where his neck and back meet), and probably considers me as meaningful as a fly on his back, and just as annoying. At least on the ground he is very affectionate and seems to like our morning ride routine. And I do like riding him, and felt somewhat redeemed when my trainer got on after me and had the same problems with him. Although, I may have created or contributed to the problems. Who knows. Anyways…
Then I rode Sydnee, the noble draft cross who is just a good citizen all around. And of course, he was a pleasure to ride after the tank. And it was starting to warm up a little (maybe in the teens now?), which was a welcome change. I tacked a few horses for my trainer, and watched a lesson.
Liam likes to be ridden later in the morning, after he’s had time to take a little nap. Usually he sleeps with his muzzle smooshed into his shavings and his legs curled up underneath him. When he dreams, his ears twitch, and sometimes he makes funny grunting or snoring noises. When he lays down for his nap, he doesn’t like to be interrupted until he’s ready to get up. He doesn’t care if I snuggle up next to him, but he is very hard to get up before he’s ready.
Today was a lucky day for Liam, he got his entire morning nap in uninterrupted. He was awake and ready to go by the time I was ready for my lesson. Maybe that’s why it was such a good ride.
We had awesome trot and canter work. We did big trot little trot, and had a nice, slow, somewhat collected canter. His transitions were prompt and he mostly stayed round and on the bit and put together in the new gait. He was also totally consistent, holding whatever frame and whatever gait I requested until I requested change. We worked on leg yields at the trot and they are getting much better. We also worked on cantering across the diagonal, transitioning to a trot at X, then trotting the rest of the diagonal to reverse directions and pick up the canter again in the middle of the short side, back across the diagonal the other way, repeat.
It was fun to try to get the transitions right where they were supposed to be. I was happy we were able to do the exercise, but saw how it needed some work for the transition at X to be right on the spot and also keep him put together so he was ready to go into the corner and transition back to canter. It looks like so much room, but the corners and transitions come up so quickly when you actually ride it! I loved how he worked with me though, and tried his very hardest, and really he did a great job. He didn’t fuss or argue at all, we just need to get the nuances of the timing of half halts and aids down so we are prepared for each change of bend and change of gait as it comes up. AND he didn’t pull on my poor arms at all, or ignore my legs. Even though he lacks the education the tank has, he offers me 100% of the thoroughbred work ethic. It’s truly a pleasure, and makes me appreciate my little ottb in a world of huge fancy warmbloods.
Good rides like that make me excited for the show season. They show me why it was worth freezing cold all winter, pushing ourselves to keep on working at it. They show me that I have improved, even if first thing in the morning I had a hard ride on another horse. And they show me how far Liam has come that we can even contemplate an exercise as complex as that! Now I just need to find a truck and trailer….